Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England
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|Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England|
|Separated from||Free Church of England|
The Evangelical Connexion of the Free Church of England came into being in 2003 as a result of secessions from the Free Church of England. The Evangelical Connexion is not part of the Free Church of England.
The FCE's Declaration of Principles recognises the essential unity of all who, by a like faith, are united to the one Divine and Common Head of the Church (Jesus Christ) and requires the FCE to maintain communion with all other Christian churches. FCE Bishops Barry Shucksmith and Arthur Bentley-Taylor, who held more Biblical and Protestant views, believed this should not go as far as participation in what they termed 'the unbiblical ecumenical dialogues' of the FCE and resigned as Bishops of the FCE in 2003 in protest at the direction that the church was taking. Ten congregations followed them and formed the Evangelical Connexion, a name derived from an earlier phase of the FCE's history when it grew out of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion.
The Evangelical Connexion saw itself as the true FCE and refuted the charge that it had left the FCE. However, since the Evangelical Connexion separated from the FCE some congregations returned to the FCE or became independent. Of the churches that originally formed the Connexion, three have returned to the FCE and three asserted their independence (they always had independent trust deeds). At present the connexion appears to consist of 3 congregations, located as follows,
- St Paul's Church, Fleetwood, Lancs
- Christ Church, Cross Gates, Leeds, W.Yorks
- Emmanuel Church, Workington, Cumbria
It is unclear to what extent the Connexion still functions corporately.
Most of the Connexion's church buildings are still claimed by the FCE, on the grounds that their use by congregations of the Evangelical Connexion contravenes the terms of their trust deeds.
The Connexion is committed to a historic interpretation of the founding principles of the FCE. Biblical theology, paedobaptism, liturgical worship, and episcopal polity are all important, although understood in light of the Declaration of Principles.
There have been contacts with the FIEC and Affinity, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales and the Church of England in South Africa, as well as the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC). The Connexion holds to the supremacy and sufficiency of the Bible in determining doctrine and practice  and stands in the body of continuing Anglican churches which take their inspiration from the English Reformers. The connexion also contends that it is the one remaining Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Anglican-style body in the UK whose doctrine and worship were still genuinely based on Scripture and the Prayer Book, though exclusive use of the Prayer Book in connexion congregations was not required.
In April 2008, a former Roman Catholic priest, Dominic Stockford, was consecrated as bishop for the connexion by Arthur Bentley-Taylor and various other leaders of the wider Reformed church in the UK. Rev Stockford resigned in 2012 for health reasons. A 'Co-ordinator' for the connexion was appointed.
- The Declaration of Principles of the FCE
- Declaration of Principles
- FCE-EC Framework of Reference for Covenanting Churches & Individuals
- Connect June 2012 from EC-FCE.org retrieved 9 March 2014